Fintech company looks back on initiative’s transformation from hurricane relief to education incubator with new video
Oct. 6, 2022 – Cane Bay Cares got its start in 2017 when entrepreneurs David Johnson and Kirk Chewning raised more than $1 million for hurricane relief efforts in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. In response to a devastating hurricane season, Johnson and Chewning each personally donated $100,000 in support of St. Croix – home to their fintech consulting firm Cane Bay Partners VI – and rallied volunteers to evacuate 230 people from the island before Hurricane Maria made landfall.
In Maria’s wake, Cares distributed over 75,000 pounds of aid, including 50,000 bottles of water, 4,000 freezer packs for medical use, 44 generators, 800 solar lights, tarps, food, and mosquito repellants.
What began as hurricane relief quickly grew, ultimately leading to Operation Inspire (OI), a program working to educate, empower and inspire the next generation through project-based learning (PBL). PBL emphasizes learning by doing to teach critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving and innovation. Operation Inspire has now served more than 700 youth, grades K-12, in St. Croix.
OI began out of an effort to help parents and kids bridge the gap while schools in St. Croix were forced to accommodate repairs by reducing school hours post Maria. Cares supported the Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) with an after-school program providing homework assistance, enrichment programs and classes in computer science, robotics, media production, engineering, business, and maritime training.
When COVID-19 led to stay-at-home mandates, OI stepped up again, expanding its offerings to help 382 students adapt to online learning. OI worked with VIDE’s teachers and paraprofessionals to provide free virtual tutoring in math, science, English, social studies, technology, agriculture, and the arts.
In March 2019, the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce named Cane Bay Cares its Nonprofit of the Year for its work in the relief effort.
Support Cane Bay Cares
In collaboration with the VIDE and the St. Croix Foundation, Cane Bay Cares welcomes additional sponsorship in support of Operation Inspire programs. A donation between $200 and $10,000 could sponsor a student or a whole school for a semester of learning.
Sponsors can donate to the program via the St. Croix Foundation.